Luke Walton and his new-look Los Angeles Lakers led by LeBron James are off to a disappointing 0-3 start, and Walton is upset. Not just about the losses, but about how his team is being officiated. In all three of their games so far this season, the Lakers have shot fewer free throws than their opponents.
Walton was so upset, in fact, that he went off on a rant about the officiating after his team’s heartbreaking loss Monday night to the Spurs. And now, he’s going to have to pay for those comments. The NBA announced on Wednesday afternoon that Walton has been fined $15,000 for criticizing officials.
Here are Walton’s comments from after Monday’s game:
“Again they outshoot us on the free throw line. Thirty-eight Free throws. Watch the play where I got a technical foul. Watch what happened to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us the night before. Then LeBron pulls up on a screen, somebody tries to fight over it. Same thing. Same thing they shot free throws on. Same thing. We are scoring 70 points a night in the paint.
We’re putting pressure on Josh Hart, watch how Josh Hart plays this game. He played 40 minutes tonight. All he does is attack the rim. Zero free throws tonight. Zero. So to me it doesn’t matter. I know they’re young, I get that, but if we’re gonna play a certain way, let’s not reward people for flopping thirty feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping to see if they can get a foul called. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It’s not right.”
It’s little surprise that Walton was fined, and he even acknowledged it would like be coming before beginning his comments. But for upset as Walton was — and he does have some legitimate complaints — the Lakers are actually right in the middle of the pack in terms of free-throw attempts per game. Heading into Wednesday night’s action, the Lakers are 14th in the league, attempting 24.3 free throws a night.
Even so, this was a smart move by Walton. Yes, $15,000 is a good amount of money, but it will be worth it for him to not only show his players that he has their backs, but to send a message to the league and the refs.
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